Save Our Beloved New York City Ballet Summer Home in Saratoga Springs – by Louise Goldstein

Save the New York City Ballet at Saratoga Performing Arts Center!

Marcia White and the Hon. Susan Read need to go from SPAC immediately!

Saratoga Springs and the Capital District want the New York City Ballet at its Summer Home at SPAC for 3 weeks, NOT 5 Days which is the current plan of SPAC.

SPAC was conceived and built as the permanent summer home of the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra.


Marcia White, President(for life) of SPAC and the Honorable Susan Read, President of the SPAC Board(who cannot fundraise because she is a judge) are dumping the New York City Ballet.  Fundraising is the main job of any board of directors.

Saratoga Springs, New York prides itself on being the most fabulous city between Manhattan and Montreal. It has top notch culture, history, horses, architecture, springs, restaurants, shops, hotels, education, parks, pools and a downtown second only to Madison Ave., 180 miles to the  South in New York City.

The unique and successful flavor of Saratoga Springs is a result having the very best of everything.  The New York City Ballet is simply the best ballet company in the world.  It is the only ballet company in the USA with a permanent summer home since 1966 in Saratoga Springs, NY.  Mr. George Balanchine, the greatest choreographer of all time, who founded the New York City  Ballet was the reason SPAC was built.  The New York City Ballet has a world class orchestra.  There is no other ballet company in the world that can compare, and Saratoga Springs is the richer in every way to have been chosen as its summer home.  A whole ballet industry has grown up in Saratoga and the Capital District because of this company.

Except for a much appreciated Resolution from the Saratoga Springs City Council supporting the NYC Ballet several week residency at SPAC, Saratogians have mostly been silent?  Where is the outrage of the business community, the Chamber of Commerce, the Real Estate moguls and Bankers, and the huge dance industry that has sprung up because the NYC Ballet has always been in residence?

If Saratoga’s racetrack shut down the screaming would be deafening and the money to keep it going would instantly start pouring in like an avalanche from the state.

If the dancers, musicians and choreographers leave Saratoga, we will all be the poorer-in mind, body and spirit.  The loss to businesses, real estate and many other financial endeavors would be incalculable.

Wake up Saratoga!  Save the New York City Ballet or you WILL regret it.


Links to Agreements between NYS Parks (OPRHP) and SPAC Corrected


1- June 28, 1966 – Original Agreement (p 1-13)

2- February 3, 1969 – Revised Agreement: C33957  (p 1-18)

3- April 25, 1977 – Main Operational Agreement: R112121 (p 1-23)

4- December 15, 1989 – Amended Main Operational Agreement: 49070/R112121 (p 1-4)

TU Article – Bray: SPAC needs new advocates

Bray: SPAC needs new advocates

PAUL BRAYTimes Union Article – Bray – SPAC need new advocates
Published 9:06 p.m., Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center was created to be a world-class facility for the classical arts. Duane LaFleche, an editor of Albany’s former Knickerbocker News, was a visionary who helped establish SPAC in the 1960s. He said it would be our region’s Tanglewood, only better.
That meant having the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra for four-week summer residencies. SPAC itself was to have a sloping lawn that provided better visual sight lines to the stage than the Tanglewood lawn.
Tanglewood emerged from a soggy farm in the Berkshires to go after visions like those of Serge Koussevitzky, former conductor of the Boston Symphony. His Tanglewood vision was to have “radiation of the beams of high culture over a nation and the whole world,” according to a New Yorker magazine article last month.
SPAC made its home in the beautiful Saratoga State Park, but it has not radiated visions of high culture. The New York City Opera only lasted at SPAC from 1986 to 1997.The Philadelphia Orchestra’s season is now three weeks. The New York City Ballet is swan diving from its original four-week residency to just a modest five-day visit next year.
When the ballet was here for four weeks, company members made their home in Saratoga Springs. Dancers could be seen at places in the community.
The current situation brings back memories of 2005, when former SPAC president Herb Chesbrough tried to end the ballet’s residency. That was a step too far for Saratoga and the region, and Chesbrough was let go. Thankfully, a grass-roots group, Save Our SPAC, has formed again to save the ballet. (Http://
There are steps to be taken to realize Duane LaFleche’s vision and save the classical arts at SPAC.
First, any entity dedicated to the classical arts needs an artistic director with charisma, imagination and organizational flair to highlight and excite people from near and far about the superb ballet and orchestra. SPAC, alas, has no artistic director.
SPAC’s current leader, Marcia White, previously was a nurse and a legislative employee. Her predecessor as president was a comptroller. Neither was close to being an artistic director.
The recent appointment of Judge Susan Phillips Read of the state Court of Appeals as chair of the SPAC board is another mistake. Judge Read got the OK to take that position on the condition she would not do any fundraising. Yet that’s the primary responsibility of boards of nonprofit arts organizations. To have a chair who must recuse herself from fundraising activity, as personally committed to SPAC as she may be, makes no sense.
While SPAC may be the “summer place to be” and relatively close to New York City, Boston and Montreal, its leadership has done a woefully poor job of attracting audience and wealthy patrons from these areas.
Creating a world-class, high-tech economy depends on being home to all kinds of excellence like a residency of the New York City Ballet. Yet, local funding is not adequate for excellence.
Times Union editor Rex Smith quoted White as saying, “How much more can you ask people to give?”
Leaders of successful artistic and education institutions don’t think like White. They never hold back from asking donors or potential donors for more.
Finally, SPAC should move beyond its reliance on Live Nation, which besieges SPAC with live rock concerts. It needs to connect the classical arts with assets of Saratoga Springs — like the racetrack, which according to a recent New York Times article, makes Saratoga Springs give Manhattan “chase as a city that never sleeps.”
The article pointed out “the magnetism of the track is what brings all these people here, whether they go to play the horses or just experience the atmosphere.”
Why can’t SPAC take advantage of that magnetism?
We need another advocate like Duane LaFleche, who got me and many others — including then-Gov. Nelson Rockefeller — excited about having the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra perform in Saratoga.
Paul M. Bray was the founding president of the Albany Roundtable civic lunch forum. His e-mail is

Read more:

Deja Vu Presentation of SAVE OUR SPAC (S.O.S.)

Maybe this presentation will help you understand that the old Special Events (old SPAC)  has been taken over by (in succession) SFX/Clear Channel/Live Nation  TO THE DETRIMENT OF SPAC’s CORE MISSION  to PROMOTE the CLASSICAL ARTS.

Basic Question: Why is the NEW CONTRACT with Live Nation EARNING SPAC LESS MONEY than the old contract?  Everything else has gone up; EXECT SPAC’s COMPENSATION ; IT’S GONE DOWN.  IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.

SPAC doesn’t even get a taste of the profits – just a one time yearly fee with a bonus for over-attendance beyond a certain figure.

Link has been fixed

Index: (49 Power Point pages – 7/15/04)

Pages: 1-8 General Info – Of note – In 2000 –SPAC Signs a Ten Year Exclusive Booking Agreement With SXF – the World’s Biggest Concert Promoters.

Pages: 10-17. New York City Ballet (July residency) – Taking a Swan Dive  – 3 weeks to 2 weeks going to  5 days in 2013 .

Of note –  In 1998 – 50th Anniversary of NYCB. Company Suspends Its Pact of Mutual Exclusiveness With SPAC. (Things don’t get better after this happens.)

In 1966 – SPAC & NYCB enter a Mutual, Exclusive Agreement

• NYCB only ballet to perform at SPAC.

• SPAC only venue in this country where NYCB to perform outside New York City.

Pages 18-21  Philadelphia Orchestra (August Residency) – Now 3 weeks.

Pages 22-23 Jazz Weekend (last weekend in June) – Of Note – A profitable event for SPAC.  (Profit split between SPAC and Concert Organizer).

Pages 24-31 Special Events – Of Note – Special Events created to help supplement/pay for Classical Program at SPAC.  For some reason this is not working.  (See: Exclusive  Long Term Contract for Special Events).

Pages 32-34 Chamber Music

Pages 35-36. Museum Of Dance – Of Note – Turnaround lately( post 2005) – It’s in the Black

Pages 37 SPAC Formally Presented NYC Opera from 1986 –1997 (Mid June)

Pages 38-40 – Finances – Of Note – (Not enough info here)

Pages 41-45 – Selection/Election to SPAC Board – Of Note – Not stated, but money matters here.

Pages 46-48 – S.O.S. Platform

Page 49 –  Dates Material to 7/15/o4 – Of Note – Some things have changed since 2004.

How SPAC Lost Its New York City Ballet Audience.

The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) has been the Summer Home of the New York City Ballet (NYCB) since 1966.  SPAC has had 47 years to build a ballet audience.  By this time, several generations of children, should have been welcomed to attend matinees from this game changer ballet company.  The matinee program selection was geared towards pleasing young audiences – How could you not build an audience with two ballet matinees being presented each week the NYC Ballet was in Saratoga Springs.  Attendance peaked in 1978 with over 90,000 attending the NYC Ballet for the three-week season. 

SPAC’s contract with New York State, its landlord, states SPAC will provide programs of the performing arts at reduced rates for children of school age.  As such, tickets for the matinee are priced differently than evening performances.    All amphitheater matinee tickets are sold as either adults OR child/senior.  Tickets are sold at these set prices no matter where you sit.  Order tickets early and get great seats.

So how did SPAC lose its ballet audience?  It lost a generation, or two, by not seeing beyond the numbers on an accounting sheet.  Rather than build an audience, SPAC decided to increase prices dramatically.  

There is a direct correlation between huge price increase and attendance. SPAC began, in earnest, to lost the ballet audience when it increased its ballet matinee prices for child/senior by 600%  ($2.50 to $15.00) and adults by 500% ( $4.00 to $20.00)  in 9 years (1987-96).   By 1996, attendance was down to 55,843.  Minutes from the 1996 membership meting state ballet attendance is down, especially matinees.  Carrying these numbers out to today, carrying the trend out to today, we have a 1000% increase for child/senior ($2.50 to $25.00) and a 750% increase for adults ($4.00 to $30.00).  The worst part is: these price increases hit children and seniors the most.  The audience the matinees were supposed to foster  –  SPAC priced heavily against.

In a nutshell, SPAC has NOT geared itself towards building a ballet audience.  Instead, it looks to always increase ticket prices.  Rather than making a permanent Summer home for the NYCB, SPAC has foster it’s decline by pricing out children (and the seniors who would bring them).

To reverse this trend, SPAC should reduce prices for child/seniors to equal a movie theater price and throw in an ice cream with every child/senior admission. SPAC should fill the seats, expedite ice cream disbursement during intermission and build an audience for the future.  SPAC might drown is a sea of red ink at first but I believe a future audience would be build to ensure not only the NYCB future at SPAC but SPAC’s future as well. 

Building an audience for the New York City Ballet – that would be the real measure of success – that’s why SPAC was created – that’s where SPAC has failed.  

Season    Attendance     Weeks       Child/Sr. Matinee Price

2012                                        2                      $25.00

2011         36,784                  2                      $23.50

2010        34,509                   2                      

2009        38,283                   2                     $23.50

2008        42,354                   3                     $23.50

2003        55,496                   3                     $19.50

2002        51,558                   3                      $17.50

2001        54,657                    3                      $17.50

2000       53,207                    3                      $17.50

1999        58,207                   3                      $15.00 

1998        53,050                   3                       $15.00

1997        60,204                   3                       $15.00

1996        55,843                   3                       $15.00 (600% increase in 9 yrs.) 

1995        64,601                    3                       $12.00 

1991        84,613                    3                        $6.00

1987        75,896                    3                        $2.50

1978        90,154                    3

1976        75,442                    3

1966        64,303                   4